Saturday, July 10, 2010
Looks can be deceiving.
I know a man, not well, but well enough, who might scare you if you saw him on a dark street corner. He is large and imposing, wears his hair in a pony-tail and has a beard. He is also a biker. Yet he is the kindest, gentlest man I have met by far. And he is a loving dad and husband. Also quite smart and well read. Interesting to talk to.
I know another man, the husband of a friend, who looks just about GQ perfect. Always impeccably dressed, well groomed with short hair. He works out, is tall and lean and has a wonderful job where he makes loads of money.
Yet he has an edge, is mean to his kids, is boastful and I cannot stand to be around him. He actually frightens me.
Another man I know I met in New Hampshire at a small town, local get-together. He looked like he had just been busy working on his carburetor; dirty hands and fingernails, stained work shirt, messy pants, work boots. A bit disheveled. He walked over to the piano at the Town Hall where we were gathered for a ham and bean supper. He started touching the keys, very gingerly at first, almost timid. My husband remarked that he was perhaps intrigued by the piano.
Well, he then sat down at the piano bench and started to play one of the most beautiful Mozart pieces I had ever heard. I was stunned. But the locals weren't; they had hired him to play.
I wish I could say that I never judge a book by its cover. But then I would be lying.
First impressions are made in mere seconds after we meet someone and we judge by what we see. And even words do not tell the whole story, as some folks are very good actors. Many worthy of an Academy award.
I meet so many people that I would never ever meet if I were not in the healthcare field. And I get not only to meet them, but I often get to meet their extended family and get invited into their homes, into their lives.
I drive up to many beautiful, large homes. Some are stunningly beautiful. And I think, wow. But inside tells a different story. Not always so pleasant.
Other times I drive to an address where I am almost afraid to walk down the block. And I think, uh-oh. But there I find a warm, welcoming family who love each other dearly.
It is so interesting to meet so many different people. To learn about their lives, to see past the facade. I learn so much. I am much more slow to judge now.
One time I was in the home of an older man who was actively dying. They lived in basic squalor, but they were a loving family. I was about to leave when suddenly a man appeared in the doorway, blocking my exit. He was big and bald and had an assortment of, lets just say, 'interesting' tattoos, that covered both arms, and I am sure, beyond. He was not smiling and looked at me in a way that caused my stomach to jolt, just a bit.
"What is going on with my dad?" he bellowed.
I stood there for a moment to compose myself. The rest of the family; mom, sister and cousin, stood behind me, eerily silent.
"Well," I said. "Why don't we sit down and talk about it."
We did. We sat down in the living room, with him right next to me on the couch, and I told him all about his dad and the dying process. He yelled at me a bit, vented for a while. The rest of the family sat with us, but remained silent.
Then he finally stopped yelling, looked at me in an odd way, reached over toward me, and started to cry.
Actually, he wailed.
"He is my best friend," he said, tears running down his face. "I love him so much. I hate the thought of losing him. He was always the best dad. He always had time for me and we liked to go fishing in the summer. What will I do now?"
The whole family, relieved that he did not cause a huge scene, huddled around him. They all hugged. We went in to see the dad. The son laid down in the bed beside his comatose dad and said, "Dad, I am really going to miss you."
I will admit, I was a bit scared. Apparently, he had been estranged from the family due to "anger issues." I spent some more time talking to him. He told me stories about some friends he had who were in jail, but that he never got into trouble with the law because, "I would never disappoint my dad like that."
So, I learned a great lesson that day; that looks can be quite deceiving. That life itself deceives us, and that we sometimes have to dig for the real truth about people and circumstances.
I will say also that I have little tolerance for people who make rude comments about others that they do not even know, simply based on what they see and perceive.
Good people on the inside are the ones that are the true salt of the earth. Looks matter little, it is really what is inside that counts. Money and power should mean much less than they do.
It always amazes me how much we all have in common. We all grieve. We all feel loss. We all get sad and frightened.
We all have moments of great joy and happiness, too.
We are all just simply human on the inside.
Too bad we lose sight of that so often.
“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.”
“Judge a tree from its fruit, not from its leaves”
"When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself."